There is no place in Scotland for flat roofs councillors warned this week, after plans for a new care village included them in the design.
Concern was raised over the use of flat roofs on extra-care housing which Midlothian Council is building in Bonnyrigg, as it was claimed they would “leak within six months”.
Councillor Joe Wallace said it was folly to use the flat roofs, calling for a pitched slope to allow rainwater to drain off.
However, he was told by the council’s planning chief, Peter Arnsdorf, that while the design of the building might make the roof look flat there was likely to be some sloping for drainage.
And he said by using a flat roof the council was able to create three-storey housing which was no higher than the previous buildings on the site.
The proposals for the former St Mary’s Primary School land in Bonnyrigg will see 46 extra-care housing built in a three-storey block alongside a 30-bed care home and ten rehab flats.
The project received support from Bonnyrigg and Lasswade Community Council, who said it would be an asset to the town centre.
And at a virtual meeting of Midlothian Council’s planning committee this week, elected members were keen not to delay the progress of the important project, recognising the need for it locally.
Councillor Dianne Alexander said there were people living in the town who were prisoners in their own homes because of a lack of suitable accommodation.
She said: “We have lots of people just in Bonnyrigg at present who live in houses that are unsuitable for them. They are incarcerated in their own homes because they are not suitable to allow them outside access.”
However, councillor Wallace said the design was not practical given Scottish weather.
He said: “I don’t know how many times I’ve raised this but Scotland just should not build flat roofs.
“I can guarantee that within six months it will be leaking.
“Can we please put a pitch on this roof and allow water to run away.”
Councillor Jim Muirhead pointed to the number of flat-roofed schools built in Midlothian in recent times saying he was not aware of leaking issues.
However, cllr Wallace added that Lasswade High School was reporting problems with “water ingress”.
Mr Arnsdorf told the committee: “I understand the sentiment but in terms of flat roof design it is a modern approach to building construction.
“We are starting to see flat-roofed structures not just throughout Midlothian but throughout Scotland so the judgement is about whether you find that design acceptable or not.
“I appreciate councillor Wallace is not a fan of that building. In this particular case we felt it was appropriate so you kept the heights of the structures at a level which is more compatible to the surrounding area.”
However, other councillors pointed out the flat roof design would be out of place in the area, with councillor Colin Cassidy describing the design as “incongruous”.
The committee agreed to approve the plans for the care village but asked Mr Arnsdorf to go back to the architect and request they look at ways to add a pitch to the roof to address concerns.
By local democracy reporter Marie Sharp